Growing flowers is very rewarding. They make the world more beautiful and it is just fun to watch something you care for grow up in front of your eyes. But apart from the aesthetic beauty and the rewarding aspects of growing a flower garden, they can also be very profitable. You can sell those flowers and make a lot of money.
Many of our readers do just that. But many of them are also located in areas with very cold winters, where they can only grow flowers once a year. This seriously cuts into their profits. For these growers, it makes a lot of sense to move their flower garden indoors, whether that be a greenhouse, a warehouse or just a room in their basement. The size of the operation doesn’t matter; the principle is always the same.
Well, there is one difference between a greenhouse and a room in the basement. In the greenhouse the plants still get natural light, since the walls and ceiling are generally made of glass or a transparent plastic. You might add some grow lights into the greenhouse to supplement that natural sunlight, but you don’t have to provide every bit of light your plans get.
If you’re growing in a dark room like a warehouse or basement, which might not have any natural light at all, you need to provide all of the light. This can be costly and can be a pain to set up.
On the flip side, it has the advantage that you control the light cycle completely. You tell your plants when it is spring, when it is summer, when it’s winter and when it’s autumn. This means that you can have several harvests per year.
Of course, you can do this in a greenhouse too, by using supplemental lighting. Plant grow lights fill-in extra light on winter days when the sun is only in the sky for a few hours. This means you can keep growing even in the winter. And you have even more control in a completely dark room, than in a greenhouse.
Now the big question, of course, is what do you use to light your garden. You might think you can just get some light bulbs from Home Depot. You actually wouldn’t be wrong. That does work, but there are much more efficient and cost-effective lighting solutions. Regular lights simply don’t provide that much power, so you would need a ton of light bulbs, which would cost a lot of money, use a lot of power and produce a lot of heat.
A much more efficient solution are what are called high intensity discharge lights. This is written HID for short. There are two types of these: MH lights and HPS lights. MH stands for metal halide and HPS stands for high-pressure sodium.
MH lights give you spectrum similar to the sun during daylight hours. It contains a lot of bluish light. HPS bulbs give you more reddish light, which you would get towards the into the day or during the fall season. Because of this reddish spectrum, HPS lights encourage blooming and flowering in plants, just like the reddish light during the fall season does in the natural world.
Many growers combine these two bulbs. This makes for an ideal grow environment. The problem with HID lighting, though, is that it consumes a lot of power and produces a lot of heat. Getting rid of that heat will require even more power, for air-conditioning units and fans. Those also cost money to buy.
If you have a small garden you can make do with florescent lights. T5 fluorescent fixtures are especially well-suited to this. They cost less than HID lights and they also produce less heat and consume less power, although, if you compare them on a watt for watt basis, this is no longer true. HID lights are actually more efficient.
Finally we have LED grow lights. These are the newest entrants into the field and they are slowly taking over. This new technology is wonderful. It cost a lot more than the other lighting types, but it produces less heat and uses less power, meaning that LED plant lights end up paying for themselves fairly quickly. That said, this is only true for high quality LED lights. Much of what is on the market is not high-quality so the biggest frustration here is finding the correct light.
For most home growers that are moving their operation indoors, I would recommend just using florescent lights or perhaps HID lighting. But if you are a commercial grower with a larger operation, LED lights make by far the most sense. You will pay much more upfront, but what you will save will pay for itself within a year or two.
If you are looking to buy LED grow lights, the best sizes are 600 watts and 1000 watt lights. You’ll find a good post detailing the best 600 watt LED grow lights here. There’s another one for the best 1000 watt horticultural LED lights here. Check them out if you’re interested in LEDs. Those should help you reach a buying decision.